'It's a miracle', says mum as stolen pup is found 180km away
A puppy stolen from a young boy as he stood outside a store in Wexford has been found by a garda 180km away.
The six-month-old pug was taken from Nikita (10) as he waited for his mother outside Aldi last Sunday.
"If the garda had not followed up on all the calls, Niki would not have been found," said the boy's mother, Natalja Onanko.
A delighted Nikita has since travelled with Natalja and his father, Andrey, to Co Meath, to collect Niki from a dog pound.
The six-month-old pup was found locked in a shed in the garden of an unoccupied house in Meath.
"The theft was the subject of numerous appeals on social media throughout the week," said a garda spokesperson.
Natalja is now pleading with dog owners to get their pets microchipped and registered so that they can be traced if they are lost or stolen.
"When the vet scanned Niki, he knew he was our dog because we had him micro-chipped and registered," she said.
Natalja received the good news in a phone call last Friday from Gda Jill Mangan, who is based in Trim.
"It's a miracle. It is hard to believe he was found in Meath when we live in Wexford," she said.
She said the support the family had received after Niki was stolen was "fantastic".
"There are a lot of good people around who want to help. You need to believe, you really do," said Natalja.
"Of course, Gda Mangan saved Niki's life."
Natalja said the family would be eternally grateful to her for following up on all the calls and information given to gardai in Meath.
It was as a result of this that she went to the shed of the vacant house and found Niki inside.
"He had been dumped. Whoever did this did not give him a chance," said Natalja, who believes the thieves were "too afraid to sell Niki because he is micro-chipped and it would be a big story if he was scanned by a vet or new owners".
"That was why I believe we got him back," she said.
When Gda Mangan rang to tell the family their beloved pet had been found, "Nikita was dancing", said Natalja.
"We want to say 'thank you' to the gardai and especially to Gda Jill."
A spokesperson for gardai in Meath said the investigation had resulted in two stolen dogs being recovered.
"Doing some good detective work, Trim gardai got search warrants to search two separate addresses on Friday," said the spokesperson.
"Niki was found at one of the addresses and a French bulldog, stolen from Kildare in 2016, was found at the other."
The bulldog has also been reunited with its owners.
Garda investigations are continuing and charges are likely in the near future.